No Noose Is Good News! Should India abolish death penalty?

Niticentral Staff | Nov 29, 2012 

No Noose is Good News!
That was the headline in most newspapers when Britain abolished the death penalty. Britain is not alone in doing away with the noose. All liberal democracies in the West have abolished the death penalty. The only country which stands out is the US where many of the States still retain capital punishment.

Among non-Western democracies, India retains the death penalty which is used in ‘rarest of rare’ cases. This allows for undesirable discretion to the judiciary and the executive. That, in turn, leads to debate which often borders on the absurd and influences those who decide the fate of convicts on death row.

Recently, the Supreme Court has made an elaborate comment on the issue of capital punishment, drawing attention to the infirmities of our criminal justice system.

In a democracy, people should decide on an issue as emotive and with far-reaching consequences as the death penalty. But public debate in our country is unfortunately restricted to the highfalutin opeditorial pages of English language newspapers published from Delhi and sterile discussions in the studios of news television channels based in the National Capital Region.

This must change.

Niti Adda is your platform to have your voice heard. On Friday, November 30, at 8 pm (IST), we debated whether India should retain the death penalty at Niti Adda. We had Sachin Kalbag, Editor of MidDay, Sandhya Jain, public affairs commentator, and @Patrix as our panellists. We also invited Amnesty International to join the debate, which they did through the participation of their India representative.

The turnout at Friday evening’s Niti Adda was gratifying, as was the passionate debate on this emotive issue. For the benefit of those who could not join us, we are posting the transcript of the debate. This is an un-edited, as-it-happened transcript.

Kanchan Gupta
Editor.

Friday November 30, 2012
8:00
centerofright:

Hi all, Welcome to the debate on #NITIADDA. Give us some time before all the panelists join in 

8:02
centerofright:

Also a request to all comments coming in. They are in moderation and will be approved once the panelists complete their arguments

8:07
centerofright:

We have Sandhya Jain, Sachin Kalbag who have already joined the debate

8:07
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

What is our Feeling,why we want Death Penalty to be Abolished,Is it because most of European Countries have done that

8:08
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

We must decide objectively, why death Penalty be abolished,Our heart or our mind should Play or Both to take a View

8:10
centerofright:

Let me take the opening comments from Panelists. Do you think death penalty should be abolished in India with your reasons.

8:10
Comment From KanchanGupta

Good evening everybody! Welcome to this session of Niti Adda.

8:11
Should death penalty in India be abolished?
Yes

 ( 31% )

No

 ( 69% )
8:11
Comment From tweetjha

I wonder how can death penatly be termed as punishment when it involves murder! There can be no clearer example of a lawful killing than an execution ordered by a court of law

8:14
Sachin Kalbag:

Yes, the death penalty should be abolished in India. I will put forward various reasons for my argument, some of which I have addressed in my column last week.

8:15
Sachin Kalbag:

The death penalty is a prickly subject to debate in India because the idea of bringing people to justice is often confused with the idea of vengeance; and not with the idea of punishment. In the case of murder, that idea of vengeance translates into killing the person who has killed.

8:16
Sachin Kalbag:

Those who want to retain the death penalty also claim that it is deterrence against murder or graver crimes such as terror attacks.

There is no empirical data to prove that the death sentence has prevented murders from taking place or terror attacks being executed. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, India recorded 38,924 murders in 2003. That number rose to 42,923 in 2011. Adjusting for population growth, the murder rate in both 2003 and 2011 was the same: 3.5 murders per 1,000. All this while, the death penalty stood, even if it applied to only the “rarest of the rare” cases.

8:16
centerofright:

Sandhya Jain – ” I do not support abolition of Death Penalty. One the current national environment of the last two decades or more has seen the rise of more and more heinous crimes, crimes that involve gruesome planning, brutal violence and a desire for Maximum deaths of innocents, such as public placing of bombs, or open shootings of anyone who happens to be there eg Chatrapati Shivaji Stadium, 2008.Second type of killing/intent to kill is again premeditated attacks on National Leaders or State leadership eg attack on Parliament, attack on Srinagar assembly, murder of Punjab CM Beant Singh. The assassinations of PM Indira Gandhi and former PM Rajiv Gandhi also fall in like categroy. We cannot treat these events as ordinary crimes of passion

8:17
centerofright:

Kanchan da – There are two reasons for retaining the death penalty. First, it acts as a deterrent to heinous crimes. Second,the principle of eye for an eye is the core of justice in cases of criminal offence. There can be no justice unless the person committing the crime suffers in equal measure. Yet…

8:18
Sandhya Jain:

Death Penalty is about Justice, Punishment of a Crime for which it is viewed as a just response by the State. It is not to be confused with a deterrent at all. The confusion of punishment with deterrence is causing people to wobble on the issue because crime is actually going up – the crimes that call for death penalty

8:18
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

@sachinkalbag I still don’t get why retribution ought not to be an acceptable motive for punishment and an integral element of criminal justice

8:18
Comment From KanchanGupta

There are two reasons for retaining the death penalty. First, it acts as a deterrent to heinous crimes. Second,the principle of eye for an eye is the core of justice in cases of criminal offence. There can be no justice unless the person committing the crime suffers in equal measure. Yet…

8:18
Comment From anoopdwivedi

Nope, not at all. Some crimes are such which warrant no less punishment than death penalty. Anyone waging/trying to wage war against the sovereignty of the nation is one such fit case. Cannot do away with it hence.

8:19
Sachin Kalbag:

Understandably, passions run high when we discuss the death penalty for Qasab. He did kill scores of people on his own, including the brave policeman Tukaram Omble whose ultimate sacrifice got Qasab behind bars. In fact, he even gunned down members of a family who gave him water when he was thirsty. How evil is that. So why should he not be sent to the gallows?

8:19
Sachin Kalbag:

However, it would be pertinent to ask whether the punishment (as opposed to vengeance) would have been more appropriate if he were to be in jail for the rest of his life (without the option of parole).

8:20
Comment From AmritHallan

My thoughts on this are undecided, but I’m more against it than in favor of

8:20
Sandhya Jain:

I am suspicious that this is backdoor attempt by Govt of India to impose European law and values on India. The timing of Home Minister calling for RETHINK, on Nov 26, just days after Kasab hanging is dangerous

8:20
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

I Agree with the Views of Sandhya Jain

8:20
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

Society in India or Elsewhere from Time Immemorial, have a law controlled by One or Many,which lays down certain norms 4 that society,if violated.. Punishment follows

8:20
Comment From tweetjha

We can’t boast of world class judiciary till the time we abide by death penalty. A justice should even involve the culprit.It is also about what kind of state we dream to make India!

8:20
Comment From hpadhur

if we are to do away with the death punishment, we must be well prepared for prevention of the terror strikes and rarest of rare kind of crimes. Its too early for India to even think of abolishing it.

8:21
Sandhya Jain:

Why is Govt wanting a RETHINK when the nation is waiting for the hanging of Afzal Guru in Parliament attack case?

8:22
KanchanGupta:

Sachin, this debate is not individual specific. The crimes of Kasab pale into insignificance when compared to punishment he got. But there are larger issues. For instance, the enormous discretion exercised in deciding death penalty or giving clemency.

8:23
Sandhya Jain:

On Parl attack case – consider – India was just out of Kargil war with Pakistan; PM Vajpayee and entire cabinet and all MPs inc then leader of opposition were inside Parliament. In case we lost leaders then and Pak attacked again, Army would not know what to do, there is NO Pres Rule at Centre; and we would be busy cobbling up a New Govt rather than responding!!! what a mess

8:23
centerofright:

All Panelists – The point is moving to whether Death penalty is acting as a deterrent on criminals or it failed to do / death penalty anyways is being provided in the rarest of rare cases – so whould we leave that leverage?

8:24
KanchanGupta:

Death penalty in rarest of rare cases is the rule of thumb. But goal posts get shifted in deciding rarest of rare. I have a problem with that. Either it should be mandatory for specific crimes and thus become a strong deterrent. Or be done away with.

8:24
Sandhya Jain:

NO – rarest of rare cases caused confusion, because it got applied to cases of individual crimes of gruesome nature and so SupCourt favours rethink on that point

8:26
Sandhya Jain:

The mood of the nation too demands that en masse crimes be punished with death penalty. In Indira Gandhi assassination, judge unfortunately used paradigm of rarest of rare because a sitting PM murdered for first time in free India. No one else died then, but

8:26
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

@sachinkalbag there is little evidence that even jail sentences ncessarily mitigate crime rates in future. In that sense, not mich of a deterrent. so should we just register offenders & let them off?

8:26
Comment From JitegaBharat

“Sachin Kalbag: There is no empirical data to prove that the death sentence has prevented murders from taking place or terror attacks being executed.” With such twisted logic, ALL laws of punishment should be abolished. Theft has not been eradicated after 1000s of years of laws against it!

8:27
Comment From AmritHallan

My logic is, death penalty brings us to the level of the perpetrator.

8:27
KanchanGupta:

Sandhya, where was the punishment in the ghastly anti-Sikh violence of 1984?

8:27
Comment From anantapoolla

Those who want death penalty to be abolished, should suggest a definitive way to keep such criminals away from the society with the least amount of tax payers money spent in keeping them alive…

8:27
Comment From kaushkrahul

Death penalty is necessary to create and mantyain fear in criminlas. You can have objection with noose, you can opt for injections or any other way. But dropping it will further strengthen our already build image of a weak nation.

8:27
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

As I have written earlier,discussion here should be on Objective thinking & not Kasab or any one like Him

8:27
Comment From indiantweeter

I dont think death penalty has any effect on the mindset of people who wage war against India but it looks like we gave justice to the victims

8:27
Comment From c_ontrarian

If punishment should be proportionate to crime committed, the worst of crime deserves worst of punishment. Let’s not forget law takes cognizance of crimes of passion vis a vis those committed in cold blood.

8:27
Comment From JitegaBharat

The alternative to death penalty – life imprisonment – is grossly unfair to a homeless whose only crime is that s/he has not committed a crime big enough to be a “life time guest of government charity” of free housing, food and civic amenities!

8:27
KanchanGupta:

Has Amnesty International joined us?

8:27
Sandhya Jain:

In the case of Beant Singh and Rajiv Gandhi, others died too. In bomb attacks in market places and other such cases of ‘kill whoever and however many we can’ bomb blasts — we cannot call such incidents as rarest of rare. They were frequent and they deserve like punishment, for the sake of the innocents who died

8:27
centerofright:

@kanchangupta – nopes

8:27
Comment From PointBlank2108

Please keep the criminal alive for the rest of his life, but not on my taxes.

8:28
Comment From AIIndia

Amnesty International’s study “Lethal Lottery: The Death Penalty in India, A study of Supreme Court judgments in death penalty cases 1950-2006″ has revealed that the system is riddled with fatal flaws and that the only remedy is to abolish the death penalty completely.

8:28
Comment From manu_bajaj

Death Penalty abolishan is only possible when we attain low crime rate. Abhi Dilli bahut dur hai.

8:28
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

Yes,we must restrict to Death Penalty discussion only

8:28
KanchanGupta:

Amnesty International, instead of plugging your pamphlets why not tell us what would be your stand on, say, Kasab and Afzal?

8:28
Sandhya Jain:

Kanchan, the Sikh pogroms of 1984 definitely fall in the category for which Death was appropriate. We know to our shame that State had no interest to pursue the crimes, the worst culprits are dead and the rest will be protected to death.

8:29
Comment From AIIndia

Amnesty’s study (Lethal Lottery) is the first to examine the essential unfairness of the death penalty system in India by analysing evidence found in Supreme Court judgments of abuse of law and procedure and of arbitrariness and inconsistency in the investigation, trial, sentencing and appeal stages in capital cases. It demonstrates that the administration of the death penalty in India has not been in the “rarest of rare cases” as claimed in the country and there is ample evidence to show that the death penalty has been an arbitrary, imprecise and abusive means of dealing with defendants.

8:29
Patrix:

As Kanchan mentioned, the death penalty can either be a deterrent or a punishment. Sachin’s citations and evidence worldwide suggests that it has failed as a deterrent. So the debate should focus on, whether it is justifiable to have it as punishment and if so, what does it achieve?

8:29
Comment From SamitLive

To Sachin Kalbag Ji: Are not we allow some Kandhar tragedy or something related to blackmail as India has faced for quite a times??? For what good you r advocating to allow that rarest culprit to be alive??

8:30
AIIndia:

@KanchanGupta: The execution of Ajmal Kasab for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks undoes much of the progress India has made over the death penalty.

8:30
Sachin Kalbag:

@KanchanGupta You are right about the rarest of rare cases. But a murderer does not kill people thinking whether he will be sent to the gallows or will be given life. He (or she) kills because he (or she) wants to kill (for whatever reason). When we execute that person, as Dr PB Mehta has argued, our humanity is equated with their humanity. Our act becomes an act of vengeance. For India to evolve into what I call a “compassionate society”, the abolition of the death penalty is ONE of the steps.

8:30
KanchanGupta:

Amnesty International, are you then suggesting Kasab should have walked free?

8:31
Patrix:

The hostage crisis is often suggested as a reason, as SamitLive suggests, to put the perpetrator to death but in that case, we may even have a hostage crisis mid-trial. So should we then abolish the trial process also and put the culprit to death immediately?

8:31
Sandhya Jain:

We also have the most startling crime in the form of the Godhra train burning – which no one denies was an act of deliberation – should we really think culprits should not be punished appropriate to the crime?

8:31
Sachin Kalbag:

Patrix: I have made a similar argument

8:32
centerofright:

What would all the panelists comment where life imprisonment folks have been released on Republic day and Independence days?

8:32
AIIndia:

@KanchanGupta: We had always maintained that imprison Kasab for the full duration of his life but abolish the death penalty. http://amnestyindia.tumblr.com/post/30513514906/no-one-should-be-executed-not-even-ajmal-kasab

8:32
KanchanGupta:

Sachin, Patrix: Statistically death penalty has failed to be a deterrent. Agreed. But there’s also this view that survivors/families of victims need a closure by ware of having avenged the crime. How do we deal with that? Look at responses to Kasab hanging.

8:32
Patrix:

Sachin, it also begs the question whether we are offering the death penalty as a punishment for past crimes or for future actions that may or may not occur?

8:33
Sandhya Jain:

Re remission of punishment on Republic Day or I-Day – this is a sovereign right of a ruler/govt and should not be taken away. But I dont think it should be done for Lifers – that shd be case by case basis. Remission for lesser crimes is fine

8:33
Sachin Kalbag:

What if there was a hijack in the middle of the Qasab trial? There are scores of terrorists in American jails (and Guantanamo and other CIA bases). The reason that the US has remained safe is because they have strengthened their borders and their intelligence and their PREVENTION mechanism.

8:34
Sachin Kalbag:

India must first and foremost aim for a robust justice delivery system. That is the basis of an equal society.

8:34
Sandhya Jain:

Death penalty is NOT about deterrence folks, it is a judicial punishment commensurate to a crime

8:34
Patrix:

Kanchan, survivors/families tend to approach the issue emotionally hence the state is involved in the process to provide an unemotional solution (remember, lady justice is blind). Of course, I would like to rip apart the person that kills my loved ones hence all the more reason, I shouldn’t be involved in deciding what the punishment should be.

8:34
KanchanGupta:

Irrespective of whether death penalty stays or goes, life imprisonment should mean spending the entire life behind bars. I think the Supreme Court has recently questioned this whole thing about remission and 20 years etc. Also, the idea of parole is abhorrent. It mocks at victims and families.

8:35
Sachin Kalbag:

Yes, Kanchan, which is why I had proposed a lifer with no option for parole.

8:35
Sachin Kalbag:

As India progresses to become a far more compassionate society than it is at present, the death penalty will become an anachronism. That is not to say that there won’t be any murders in a compassionate society. Or that the abolition of the death penalty will overnight turn India into one.

It most likely won’t because the building blocks for a compassionate society are multi-disciplinary and therefore difficult to put together, and it would be a long, arduous and an almost impossible task.

8:35
Patrix:

Sandhya, in that case, why are rapists only jailed for 7-10 years? Is that a judicial punishment commensurate to that crime? If eye for an eye is the principle, what should be the punishment for rape?

8:35
AIIndia:

@Sachin Kalbag @KanchanGupta: Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is an option.

8:36
Sandhya Jain:

Kanchan, that must be case by case basis. Traditionally life was equated with 14 or 20 years becoz that is min time spent for Lifers.

8:36
centerofright:

All Panelsists – so why did US, India and China have voted together against the abolition of death penalty?

8:36
Sandhya Jain:

For heinous crimes, SC favours Life = balance of life

8:36
Comment From anantapoolla

Absence of harsh and swift punishments is a reason for the raise of crime in the past two decades Ms. Jain. It is not despite death penalty such crimes are happening!!!

8:36
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

moreover, we can’t really claim deterrence doesn’t work when we barely execute 1 person every 8 years or so. To even test the hypothesis, we need a respectable number of executions per year for a country our size & population

8:36
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

Regrettable if GOI thinks as because Europeans think we should Toe same line,Enough & comprehensible discussion must take place at many levels before GOI decides or else 7 min taken to pass IT act ie 66a, has landed all of us in BIG Soup

8:36
Sandhya Jain:

Rape cum murder is punishable with death sentence

8:36
Patrix:

I support life imprisonment with no parole too. Put a man behind bars and limit his movements to within prison walls and that soon becomes a much harsher punishment compared to death.

8:36
Comment From vimoh

Arguments against the death penalty revolve around humanitarian concerns. ‘We should not commit murder to punish murder’. But the entire point behind punishment is the sending of a message. The State changes no one’s nature by killing them. The death penalty is for everyone who is watching. People should not be able to kill entire groups without at least thinking that their own lives will be at stake.

8:36
KanchanGupta:

Sandhya, I disagree. Life imprisonment should mean exactly what it says. In jail till the criminal dies.

8:37
Comment From tweetjha

India is so obsessed with the concept of death Penalty. That is pretty obvious with why #Kasab was also not given his constitutional right to seek for a judicial reveiw against the mercy plea rejection…I wish all these money which was involved in making Kasab’s case so high profile wld had been given to all the victims of his crime.

8:37
Comment From NiniHala

Judicial and penal systems have evolved world over with 2 factors in mind, revenge and reform. Revenge for the victim and reform of the culprit. Death penalty belongs to revenge category. Very early in social development, society took-over revenge responsibility from individual with a promise to avenge the victim after due inquiry. If we abolish death penalty, individuals will reclaim the right of revenge which will lead to anarchy.

8:37
Comment From manu_bajaj

Till such time a Khudiram Bose is not honored in India, death penalty in India should never be abolished. Period.

8:37
Comment From indiantweeter

also….there is a procedure which is followed before considering the rarest of the rare cases , then for the humanitarian part we go to the first citizen of the country …..Death penalty must stay

8:37
Comment From AmritHallan

Especially in the case of terrorists, when you hang them, you make heroes out of them.

8:37
Comment From alok_bhatt

Abolish Death penalty only if you can bring all those killed earlier by this route, back to life….since GOI cant, why should it be abolished?

8:37
Comment From JitegaBharat

The right response to Amnesty International’s study is to remove fatal flaws & NOT abolish death penalty.

8:37
Patrix:

Sandhya, rape + murder is death penalty but we know that the death sentence is for the murder part, not rape. So what is a commensurate punishment for rape, if death penalty is a guiding principle?

8:37
Comment From c_ontrarian

So, Amnesty International is “for” death penalty if it is applied on rarest of rare cases as is claimed, it’s only against it’s arbitrary use. Is that correct?

8:37
Comment From AmritHallan

Capital punishment is like a murder with mass agreement.

8:37
Comment From devatha75

some body was commenting that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that crime rate goes lower with the deterrence of death penalty. I would like to ask is there empirical evidence that suggests that crime rate goes lower if we abolish death penalty?

8:38
Comment From PointBlank2108

But the contrary is true as well. Based on your arguments, should they walk free? @Patrix

8:38
Comment From tweetjha

Let us be real! How much has capital punishment over these years impacted in establishing state of law in India…Are’nt we just murdering a person, not the thought process which makes him commit a henious crime. Aren’t we making a fool out of ourself, if we are trying to project ourself as tough state by murdering one mere metaphor!

8:38
Comment From balamy

Death penalty in India has lost its relevence because the delay in serving the sentence and the final execution. At every level there are chances of getting the same revoked. Hence Death penalty as a detterent has a no effect. Even the rarest of rare cases may not justify the continuation of the same.

8:38
AIIndia:

@c_ontrarian: Not at all. we are against death penalty anywhere in the world. Period

8:38
Comment From alok_bhatt

Also a question to those who are for abolishing of Death penalties- how would you deal with this issue, if your near & dear ones are subjected to a crime that falls in the category of rarest of rare cases?

8:38
Comment From SamitLive

Patrix: We must not abolish the trail process but can restrict the trail to some fixed time limit. Our Govt or Forces can’t secure everything in our wide spread nation. This is a reality. We can not afford the life long survival of Kasab’s or Afjal’s

8:38
Comment From JitegaBharat

“rarest of rare cases” is extremely vague. The dead victim IS the “rarest of the rare” to his / her relatives. My father or mother are the rarest of the rare to me since I have only 1 each of them …. “Eye for an eye” can bring consistency

8:38
Patrix:

Vimoh, suicide bombers have no qualms about their lives being at stake.

8:38
Sandhya Jain:

I think with rise of Mass and Mindless Killings which are premeditated acts of terror, the death penalty alone meets demands of Justice.

8:38
Comment From _livingrebel

In other words Sachin Kalbag, you mean India should have ideally killed Kasab before he left Pakistan? Would have saved us from mid-trail hijack, punishing him with death?

8:39
Comment From AmritHallan

To get a better perspective we have to understand, especially in India’s case, terrorism is more of a political problem rather than law and order.

8:39
Comment From c_ontrarian

We can conclude that statistically death penalty has failed to deter heinous crimes only when we know if 3.5 murders per thousand is more or less than what it ideally should be.

8:39
Comment From Satday_Brunch

a solitary confinement but no death penalty could also be an option

8:39
Sachin Kalbag:

LivingRebel I neither said that nor did I mean that.

8:39
Comment From Mitul Nath

prime objective of law is to instill fear among incorrigible offenders , therefore death penalty shouldnt be abolished

8:39
Comment From JitegaBharat

Sachin – Compassionate society & act of vengeance (if you call death penalty punishment as that) need not be mutually exclusive! A king should hold Niranjan / Aarti in one hand & sword in the other. Praise the well-behaved & punish the guilty!

8:39
Comment From PointBlank2108

@tweetjha What constitutional right? he is an alien remember? and did he consider any human rights of those he killed?

8:39
Sandhya Jain:

I think rise of Terrorism for which dealth penalty alone adequate punishment has made us uncertain about individual crimes that merit death penalty.

8:39
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

all panelists: what is the justification for burdening the tax payer with supporting a criminal behind bars for life when it is clear he has no remorse or repentance, cannot be rehabilitated & has no positive contribution to make to society?

8:40
KanchanGupta:

India voted with US and China against UN resolution calling for abolition of death penalty because all three countries have capital punishment on their statute books. But I would hate to think criminal justice system in India is as partisan as in China or, in the case of death penalty especially, in the US where more Blacks have been killed by the state than Whites.

8:40
Comment From indiantweeter

just for Amnesty international we cannot alter our laws , also Amnesty should take responsibility of all the henious crimes which forced courts to consider them as rarest of the rare

8:40
Patrix:

Sandhya, in that case, death penalty just makes us feel better just like it does for the perpetrators of those heinous crimes. We in fact are delegating murder to the state to avoid getting our hands bloody directly

8:41
Sachin Kalbag:

Be right back. Some issue in the newsroom.

8:41
Sandhya Jain:

For those who die – like Jessica Lal, Priyadarshini Mattoo, Aman Kachru – it is difficult for us to say that culprits dont deserve death penalty. But courts then consider I think, if they should be giving death to everyone and that is where Life Imprisonment comes in

8:41
Comment From manu_bajaj

The goons who killed my dad would not be alive, if death penalty was in existense. I hope that they do not make some else an orphan like me :(

8:41
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

Why Supreme court says “rarest of Rare case’ for awarding the highest punishment. why our Constitution framers who constituted major Indian View,did not provide Abolition Of Death Penalty

8:41
Comment From AmritHallan

Death penalty is nothing more than a sadistic pleasure that we get out of revenge. The primary focus should be preventing the crime.

8:42
KanchanGupta:

Patrix, Sandhya: But that is precisely the reason why the state punishes. We are not supposed to take the law in our hands (recall last scene of Sholay) so we leave it to the long hands of the law.

8:42
AIIndia:

@indiantweeter: Research conducted by Amnesty and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties has found evidence in Supreme Court judgments of abuse of law and procedure and of arbitrariness and inconsistency in the investigation, trial, sentencing and appeal stages in death penalty cases.

8:42
Sachin Kalbag:

Amrit: Yes, I agree with you. It is the harder thing to do. Which is why most countries take the easy way out. Building a stronger, more equal society should be the aim of any democracy.

8:43
Patrix:

Kanchan, exactly so the state is and should not be influenced by emotional arguments and has an obligation to uphold moral rights.

8:43
Comment From alok_bhatt

Anyone quoting Amnesty’s position on Death penalty would do well to revisit them for their views on Kashmir……would they agree on Amnesty’s that position as well???

8:43
KanchanGupta:

Patrix that’s a slippery slope. Moral rights of whom? A criminal who brutally tramples on his/her victim’s rights?

8:43
Sachin Kalbag:

JitegaBharat: Yes, you are right. But the king need not USE the sword.

8:44
Sandhya Jain:

Patrix – the Judiciary is quite balanced and takes judgments maturely. State does not dish out the penalty, state does give mercy where it deems fit

8:44
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

By burning any one by cigarette Buds,one gets Sadistic pleasure but death penalty is not awarded

8:44
Comment From c_ontrarian

@Amnesty International It’s proven that Retributive Justice alone reduces terrorism and protects people from terrorism, you may feel bad about it, but that alone works, not without reason US after 9/11, Sri Lanka, Punjab and many other terror prone places are far peaceful, because of retributive justice & death penalty.

8:44
Comment From indiantweeter

dear “allIndia” for that we send those death sentence files to President who takes decisions , Prez has converted death sentence to life sentence also

8:44
Comment From PointBlank2108

@Patrix: What moral right? Does the perpetrator consider those of the victim?

8:44
Comment From AmritHallan

If one of my relatives have been killed, killing the culprit is not going to bring him or her back. So I would be more interested in keeping my relative alive rather than worrying about whether the murderer dies or not.

8:44
Patrix:

Kanchan, moral rights of the society. We as a nation decided untouchability was morally repugnant so abolished it. The U.S. even went to war over slavery.

8:45
AIIndia:

@alok_bhatt: We are discussing death penalty here. We can disagree on Kashmir when there is a debate on it on NitiCentral some other day.

8:45
Patrix:

PointBlank, I hope we don’t measure our moral bearings with the perpetrators. We should set the bar higher otherwise there is little difference between us and them.

8:45
Sachin Kalbag:

One of the flaws in our criminal justice system is that decisions such as the death penalty are politicised. That is a bigger tragedy than the idea of retributive justice.

8:46
KanchanGupta:

Patrix, US went to war over slavery, yes, but it did not institute civil rights till my childhood. Untouchability, repugnant and abhorrent as it is, was never legally sanctioned in India. I am merely setting the record straight. :)

8:46
Sachin Kalbag:

PointBlank Here’s what Dr PB Mehta wrote: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/our-humanity-and-theirs/1034926

8:46
Comment From dubash

Would not having the death penalty on the books encourage some cops to mete out what they think is fitting (encounters)?

8:46
Patrix:

Sachin, true but that’s also true to other nations. The nations that separate the judiciary from the politics succeed.

8:46
Comment From AmritHallan

Fortunately, laws are not made by people who are emotionally charged or have just been victimized.

8:47
Comment From AmritHallan

Or if we lose an entire family in a terrorist attack

8:47
Comment From AmritHallan

I also completely understand that talking like this seems perfectly fine in a chat room but nobody knows how we are going to react when one of our loved ones is killed.

8:47
Sandhya Jain:

Those who think that Death penalty should be abolished and only Life awarded to those who would get death otherwise, should say why the law of compassion should not apply to Life and involve reduced sentences on that side of the balance also. Yes, why should life not mean strictly 14 years, or ten years, and then just release convicts on due date without administrative order. Would you be happy with that – for schoolroom shooters in America to walk out free after just 10 or 14 years?

8:48
Patrix:

Kanchan, yes but it underscores the moral bearings of the movement. Civil Rights was also a moral issue i.e. treating all people equal. It probably didn’t make economic sense to the exploiters and the Democrats even lost the South politically but no one questions the moral justification of the movement.

8:48
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

Folks should take a look at this study of 40 years of aggregated crime data across countries http://m.nber.org//papers/w13759 They will see that most sentencing does *not* deter crime, not just death penalty.

8:48
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

our discussion is purely on merit and demerit of awarding death penalty

8:48
Sachin Kalbag:

Sandhya: That is what I said: Life sentence should mean a life sentence. Not 14 years or 20 years.

8:48
KanchanGupta:

OK someone is curious to know whether meat-eaters are prone to supporting death penalty. I know it’s a frivolous comment. I doubt if that is relevant at all.

8:48
Comment From tweetjha

Doesn’t capital punishment Promote the ideology of killing as an OK solution to a difficult problem….India war against terrorism ends with hanging kasab!…Cmmon people, It is time we fought real situations with better ideology…

8:48
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

Those demanding jail sentences will note that the same lack of deterrence would equally undercut that demand too

8:48
Comment From c_ontrarian

@Amnesty International, When Countries declare war on a terror organization, with the approval of Public, it akin to giving death penalty to the perpetrators of terrorism, why don’t they explore other options like diplomacy or try to reform them?

8:49
Patrix:

Amrit, that’s why we have a judicial system that prevents us from taking law into our own hands during an emotional moment.

8:49
Comment From manu_bajaj

@amrithallan I mentioned my grief

8:49
Sandhya Jain:

I am not a meat eater and favour death penalty

8:49
KanchanGupta:

I guess popular emotions/expectations cannot be entirely divorced from the implementation/interpretation of the law?

8:49
Patrix:

Sandhya, I think everyone here is of the opinion that life imprisonment means, life without parole. The culprit dies in prison of natural causes.

8:49
Comment From JitegaBharat

Sachin – Compassion for a murderer? What about compassion for the victim? Punishment or Tit-for-tat by any other name establishes fairness. Would not want to live in a society with a twisted sense of compassion ….

8:50
Sachin Kalbag:

I am also in agreement with this argument from the article by Dr Mehta I cited earlier: The social logic of punishment is often governed by more than just considerations of morality, justice, or the functional need to maintain social order. Punishment becomes the occasion to forge a collective identity: you identify with the community by participating in an act of collective vengeance. Under this construction, your refusal to participate in the sentiment of vengeance places you outside the bounds of that community identity.

8:50
Sandhya Jain:

Dubash – encounter killing is not death penalty – latter is judicial process

8:50
AIIndia:

@c_ontrarian: The discussion is purely on merit and demerit of awarding death penalty. Not about whether states should go to war or use diplomacy.

8:50
Comment From Samarjeet Narayan

yes i agree with AmritHallan

8:50
Comment From JitegaBharat

The alternative to death penalty – life imprisonment – is grossly unfair to a homeless whose only crime is that s/he has not committed a crime big enough to be a “life time guest of government charity” of free housing, food and civic amenities! This is “bhondu intellectualism” unfit for survival. Remember – the world is about “survival of the fittest” and NOT “survival of the righteous” – if at all opposition to death penalty sounds “righteous” to you.

8:50
Comment From AmritHallan

Sandhya: I think putting somebody behind bars is punishment as well as keeping that person from committing more harm. So it makes sense to keep someone locked up if he or she is prone to committing the same crime repeatedly.

8:50
Sachin Kalbag:

JitegaBharat: I never said compassion for the murderer. What I said is bring him or her to justice. But that “justice” should not be vengeance, but punishment.

8:50
Comment From AmritHallan

@manu_bajaj I totally understand your point of view

8:51
Sandhya Jain:

i actually prefer death penalty to balance of life in jail

8:51
Comment From ramramdas

@patrix – do you philosophically support abortion and choice? or are you Pro LIfe? on what moral grounds can we take away the states right to deliver capital punishment – as long as the trial has been just and fair?

8:51
Sachin Kalbag:

JitegaBharat: I would argue that a life term punishment would be apt for murderers.

8:51
Comment From _livingrebel

Amrit, I dont think ‘laws are not made by people who are emotionally charged’ some basic laws were made when we humans started living in society, it was to maintain a balance. Laws are one of the things that separates humans and animals. and those humans who dont care for laws certainly deserve punishment. And heinous crimes certainly deserves highest punishment

8:51
Comment From Sheks65

retain death penalty only for offences of terrorism , There should be abolition of death penalty for other offences

8:52
Patrix:

Ramramdas, abortion is a separate issue. The state shouldn’t be involved in that either.

8:52
KanchanGupta:

Line dividing justice and vengeance is blurred. How do you separate one from the other without erring? That’s where the issue of discretion comes and judicial interpretation comes in and that is undesirable. If death penalty stays then it should be mandatory for a set of crimes. Or it should go.

8:53
Comment From AmritHallan

Again, locking somebody up is not just punishment, it is also a step to keep that person away from the society. The same goes with killing a criminal, so that he or she will never be able to commit the same crime again and harm more people.

8:54
KanchanGupta:

Patrix, curiously, and it could be coincidental, those who support abortion and deny fetal right to life are also passionate supporters of abolishing death penalty to uphold the convict’s right to life. I am unable to reconcile these two positions. PS: I am not anti-abortion but I believe in fetal life.

8:54
Comment From AmritHallan

@KanchanGupta In the case of Kasab the hanging was simply political opportunism.

8:54
Comment From NiniHala

What is so odious about seeking revenge. It is a human emotion and its perfectly alright to be angry. If we do not afford revenge to aggrieved citizen, he/she will obtain it on their own.

8:54
AIIndia:

@KanchanGupta: It should go completely.

8:54
Comment From manu_bajaj

@kanchangupta : agra maut ki saja unko hoti, to apni jindgai yun maut si na hoti.

8:54
Comment From PointBlank2108

Agree with KanchanGupta. Blanket ban is not the solution.

8:54
Comment From SamitLive

Can’t understand why these Human Rights activists see only human rights of Mass murderer/ terrorists/ Nalalites/ or hard core criminals. No body talks about a man beheaded at some street or dozens of ppl mass murdered in some village. There shld be No Logic appropriate to abolish Death Penalty to those Butchers

8:54
Comment From ramramdas

@patrix – sorry let me rephrase my question : what are the “moral” grounds for denying death penalty – as long as trial was just and fair

8:54
Comment From tweetjha

One more reason why death penalities should be abolished in India because the death penalty in India is administered by systems and Governments that are sometimes corrupt and/ or contain racism, discriminate against the poor, the mentally ill, religious minorities, women and even children it cannot be allowed to continue and must be abolished.

8:54
Sandhya Jain:

Abolition of death penalty would leave people with a sense of injustice, a feeling that the guilty will never pay for the crime. Can those who plants bombs in Sarojini Nagar or Lajpat Nagar markets go unpunsihed

8:56
centerofright:

Last five minutes for the debate – Closing comments from all please & Thanks all for joining in

8:56
Comment From dubash

@sandhya jain I wasn’t equating encounters with death penalty. Just wondering if there was no death penalty, if the police might be more likely to mete out what they think is just (death), as opposed to taking a criminal alive.

8:56
Comment From AmritHallan

@Sandhya Jain So you yourself are saying that the death penalty is for the “sense of justice”

8:56
KanchanGupta:

Vijay can we take a repoll please?

8:56
Comment From tweetjha

So many including myself oppose the Death Penalty because we believe all killing of human beings is wrong. Just as I oppose all acts of violence whether they are murders carried out by an individual, to acts of war by states and terrorist organizations. I am opposed to the killing of a criminal. When the crime is one not involving murder such as the trafficking of drugs not even the vengeful code of an “eye for an eye” can justify the ultimate penalty.

8:56
Patrix:

Ramramdas, because an ‘eye for an eye’ system of justice doesn’t take into account progress that man has made as a civilized race. Also, that opens the Pandora’s box of doing the same for other crimes like rape, etc.

8:56
Sandhya Jain:

Tweetjha what are you saying? No one has been hanged for being mentally ill, a woman, to a minority, much less a child.

8:57
Should India abolish death penalty?
Yes

 ( 25% )

No

 ( 75% )
8:57
AIIndia:

Death penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Indian authorities should immediately establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, in line with UN General Assembly resolutions adopted since 2007.

8:57
Comment From c_ontrarian

Though I am skeptical of bringing statistics to this debate, but statistics prove that death sentences have prevented political assassinations in India, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins were all executed. I don’t think ratio is even 3.5 to 1000.

8:58
Patrix:

Kanchan, that’s I think correlation. Abortion is a choice issue that the state shouldn’t involve itself in.

8:58
Sachin Kalbag:

My closing comment: A moratorium on the death penalty with a view to ultimately abolish it could be the first step in making India a compassionate society.

8:59
Sandhya Jain:

Thank u Dubash. Yes I would agree that for terrorists and other incorrigible criminals, the police may be tempted to take the law in their own hands and resort to staged encounters if there is no confidence in the judicial system, and if death penalty is taken off the table. In Kasab hanging, the entire System and the Nation / People felt vindicated that due process was carried out and Justice delivered.

8:59
KanchanGupta:

I reiterate my point on death penalty: If it stays, then it should be mandatory for certain crimes — eg, ‘honor’ killings, dowry deaths, motivated killings, drug trafficking, etc. There should be no ‘rarest of rare’ escape route for criminals. Presidential pardon should go. I rest my case.

9:00
Patrix:

Closing statement. Ditto Sachin. Personally I believe the death penalty should be abolished, on economic, moral, and recidivism grounds. But India is a democratic society so we should debate openly on the merits and demerits.

9:01
Sandhya Jain:

Kanchan, I think honour killings will fizzle out, Dowry and Drugs shd be punished sharply. Terrorism 100%. Rest my case, thanks for the invitation to join

9:02
Amit Malviya:

Thank you all for joining the debate. Hope you enjoyed the debate as much as we enjoyed hosting it. We now close the debate. Thank you.

9:02
KanchanGupta:

On behalf of Niti Central, I thank everybody for joining us. We will host your views for others to benefit from them. My personal thanks to the panelists. Thank you Sachin and Patrix for taking time off from your busy schedules. Thanks Sandhya for joining in. And a big thank you to all.

9:02
Sachin Kalbag:

thank you

9:02
AIIndia:

@KanchanGupta: Many thanks


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Niticentral Staff

Niticentral Staff  is a Guest Contributor at Niti Central.